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Unusual experience - Once Fired Federal Brass

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by whatnickname, Nov 3, 2019.

  1. whatnickname

    whatnickname Member

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    I’ve been reloading for better than 50 years. I almost always stick with U.S. manufactured commercial brass from Winchester, Remington and Federal. I avoid PMC and Hornady brass due to problems I’ve experienced with this stuff being too darn hard to do anything with. Yesterday I was re-sizing some once fired 270 Winchester brass and decided to go with the last of some Federal (FC) brass I had on hand. I’ve used Federal for years and had no problems. Anyway, I resize, trim and clean 100 rounds of brass (50 Federal and 50 Remington). Every bit of the Federal brass had primer pockets that were too large. The primers (Winchester Large Rifle) would seat but there was almost no resistance felt when seating the primers and I could take a small punch, run it down inside the case and push the primers out with no more than light finger pressure. Sure, every once in a while you’ll run across a case with an over-size primer pocket. Who doesn’t...but 50 straight??? Anybody ever run into this before on this scale?
     
  2. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I am very surprised you have not encountered this before. Federal brass is not meant to be reloaded, and Federal has a reason why they make their case heads soft, but the fact of the matter is, Federal brass is well known for having soft case heads in which the primer pocket expands in only a few firings.

    I used to pick up coffee cans of Federal Gold Medal match, in 308 Win and 223 from the military teams at Camp Perry. The Military shooters knew that the civilians were inveterate brass scroungers, and if you were shooting with or next to one of them, they would leave their brass on the ground. As they often shot Federal Gold Medal match ammunition, which is superb stuff, I would have my baggies full of once fired brass. And, it seldom lasted five reloads, sometime less, before the primer pockets were loose. I had case heads expand in two firings with 223 Federal. I had to comb through this brass because I was firing it in semi auto mechanisms and having a loose primer rattling around your lower would cause a jam, which if you were lucky, only caused an alibi. However I have had occasions where the primer dropped so far down into the lower that I have to leave the match and disassemble my lower, knocking pins out, to find the loose primer. That completely ruined the day, you are not going to win anything if you drop 20 points out of an 80 point match.
     
  3. whatnickname

    whatnickname Member

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    When I shot competitively I reloaded match brass...Usually Lake City. I’ve used Federal and, you’re right it’s a bit softer...one or two reloadings is just about it like you said but can’t beat the price...free. I’ve never seen any of this brass that was that soft...one shot and you’re done! Any idea why Federal does this?
     
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  4. flashhole

    flashhole Member

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    I've experienced exactly the same thing with Federal 25-06 (loose primer pockets on lots of brass). They go in the scrap brass box to be taken to the metal recycling center.
     
  5. possumbelly220

    possumbelly220 Member

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    I only load for one rifle, a 30-30 and mostly use Winchester brass. However I have used a ton of Federal for .357 mag and .38spec. Never had that problem with pistol brass. I wonder if it's made different from rifle brass?
     
  6. 375supermag

    375supermag Member

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    I have reloaded handgun ammunition for decades with Federal brass and have never had any issues with their brass.
    Limited experience with Federal rifle brass but no issues thus far.
     
  7. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    Pistol brass is not run at the pressure rifle brass is so it takes longer to show problems. Also if you use foriegn primers like Wolf, Fiocci, or Magtech they are a smidgen larger in diameter and you will get a couple more cycles with the brass unless you are at max and pushing it already.
     
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  8. Nature Boy

    Nature Boy Member

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    Win LR primers are on the small side and many are below SAAMI minimum spec. Try a different primer
     
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  9. Ifishsum

    Ifishsum Member

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    I've always used mainly CCI primers and have not really run into loose pockets on FC any more than other brands. I think CCI primers must be a smidge larger then some others.
     
  10. desmobob

    desmobob Member

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    I just reloaded some .270 this week using Federal brass that is on its second or third reload. I don't recall any loose primer pockets...
     
  11. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I cannot remember the reasons others have stated. The primary reason Corporations do anything is to make more profit. So, how would this make more profit for Federal, I don't know exactly. They are looking out for themselves, not us, so maybe it has something to do with lowered legal liability.
     
  12. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    One theory that I've seen mentioned on other forums, and I have found to be true for commercial .223 and .270WSM brass, is Federal brass has a thinner web than other brands.

    Assuming 2 pieces of brass of the same length, put a cleaning rod without a jag attached into a federal case and mark the mouth with a fine tip sharpie (beware of primer hole burrs). When you then put the marked rod into a non-Federal case, the mark will 0.010 to 0.015" from the mouth. @whatnickname, if you still have that brass, check it out to see if that is true in your case.

    I've been burnt too many times with Federal brass to go through the trouble of case prep.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  13. NoirFan

    NoirFan Member

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    Same here, I have not noticed my Federal pistol brass to have loose pockets. But I can't speak to rifle brass, it might be a different story.

    In pistol brass, I have found R-P Remington to have the loosest primer pockets by far. The foreign brands like Aguila and Herters have the tightest pockets.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
    1976B.L.Johns. likes this.
  14. cougar1717

    cougar1717 Member

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    I agree that Federal rifle brass is not made to last. Using CCI primers could help. Foreign made primers, like Tula/Wolf or S&B, were great for extending brass life since they were ever slightly bigger. Unfortunately, they haven't been available for some time.
    The original firing, plus two reloads maximum is my comfort level with Federal rifle brass. I have had primers fly out on the second firing in a semi-auto (223 and 308).

    I would agree with Hornady brass being soft also, but I consider PMC rifle brass better with respect to primer pocket enlargement with repeated firings.
     
  15. whatnickname

    whatnickname Member

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    I will check it out. Thanks
     
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